Big Five: Overview

Why is learning more about the Big Five worth my time?

Knowing more about personality typing can help you better understand yourself and others. When you have a general understanding of how people think, feel, and experience the world, you can relate to them more and have a better understanding of why they may act in certain ways.

So what is the Big Five?

The Big Five is based on many psychologists’ belief that there are five overarching personality traits in all of us: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (O.C.E.A.N.) Each person falls somewhere on a scale for each trait.

Other personality tests tend to type people without allowing for a range or scale. Systems like Myers-Briggs may be less accurate for someone who identifies with two parts of a characteristic; for example, if someone identifies as equal parts introvert and extrovert, Myers-Briggs may seem like it’s boxing them into a type. In cases like this, the Big Five can give a more accurate look at specifically where someone falls on the scale.

Openness

Openness is the measure of how open to experience, open-minded, and imaginative an individual is. People who are more open are usually creative, artistic, and willing to try something new. Those who are less open may have difficulty thinking abstractly or accepting change.

Communication Styles

Higher in Openness: Be direct, honest, and offer new ideas.

Lower in Openness: Be respectful of their personal beliefs and allow them to feel comfortable.

Careers

Those who are more open generally make great artists, entrepreneurs, and engineers, while those who are less open tend to succeed more as bankers, analysts, and contractors.

Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness measures the thoughtfulness and organization of a person. Someone who is more conscientious is likely to follow a schedule and follow through on achieving set goals. Someone who is less conscientious may have difficulty staying organized and finishing projects on time.

Communication Styles

Higher in Conscientiousness: Respect their time and be direct with your thoughts.

Lower in Conscientiousness: Understand their need for spontaneity, while holding them accountable to their responsibilities.

Careers

Those who are more conscientious are successful freelancers, consultants, and business owners, while those who are less open tend to succeed more with physical labor as firefighters, mechanics, and drivers.

Extroversion

Extroversion is a measure of how outgoing, talkative, and people-oriented someone is. More extroverted people tend to draw energy from others, while less extroverted people, or introverts, usually recharge by spending time alone.

Communication Styles

Higher in Extroversion: Create connection through casual conversation.

Lower in Extroversion: Respect their need for space and focus on communicating clearly.

Careers

People who are more extroverted usually make great actors, counselors, and photographers, while those who are more introverted tend to succeed more as librarians, engineers, and writers.

Agreeableness

Agreeableness measures how easily a person connects with others. Those who are more agreeable tend to care deeply about others and enjoy helping those in need. People who are less agreeable are generally more competitive and blunt.

Communication Styles

Higher in Agreeableness: Allow yourself to be vulnerable and open to building a personal connection.

Lower in Agreeableness: Be direct about your perspective and remain logical and patient.

Careers

Individuals who are more agreeable generally make good therapists, nurses, and teachers, while those who are less agreeably usually do well as accountants, programmers, and scientists.

Neuroticism

Neuroticism is a measure of how easily upset or stressed a person is. Individuals who are higher in neuroticism tend to worry easily and be less self-confident. Those who are lower in neuroticism are usually more relaxed and even-tempered.

Communication Styles

Higher in Neuroticism: Help them to feel safe by being encouraging and supportive.

Lower in Neuroticism: Be open, upbeat, and positive.

Careers

People who are higher in Neuroticism generally do well as florists, writers, and accountants, while those who are lower in Neuroticism tend to succeed as police officers, lawyers, and surgeons.

Learn about yourself with a free personality test.